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Question Number: 31017

Law 11 - Offside 11/13/2016

RE: Intermediate Under 14

Phil of Tarzana, CA United States asks...

A question came up in our game about where the AR should stand if a defender deliberately leaves the field over the goal line & later comes back in.

I am aware of: 'A defending player who leaves the field of play without the referees permission shall be considered to be on the goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play or until the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside their penalty area. If the player left the field of play deliberately, the player must be cautioned when the ball is next out of play.'

The CR in our game felt the AR should stay on the goal line until the defenders get the ball & clear it outside their PA toward the 1/2 way line. i.e. that there can be no offside until the ball is cleared.

However, my reading is that the AR stays even with the now 'last' defender. e.g. Red defender #2 goes over the goal line for the purpose described. The attackers maintain control of the ball & Red #2 comes back on to help. He is still considered to be on the goal line. However, if all the other defenders, including the GK step forward, the AR keeps Red #2 on the goal line, but stays even with the next closest defender. This means that there can still be an offside if an attacker is physically closer to the goal line than all the defenders (except Red #2). I hope I've explained this clearly. Do I have that correct?

If so, I have one more puzzle. Suppose Red #2 comes back on & is actually the closest to the goal line. Considering the speed of the game & how crowded it can become, I would think it would be almost impossible to follow where Red #2 is. Because if the AR stays even with #2, but doesn't realize the number, he might flag offside incorrectly.

Thanks for all the advice.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Phil
The defender off the field of play is placed on the goal line for offside purposes so the AR looks for the 2nd last opponent on the field of play which could be the goalkeeper. The AR should stay level with the 2nd last opponent and as that changes adjusts his position accordingly.
The statement that there cannot be any offside until the ball is cleared is incorrect. All that has happened is that the defender is placed on the goal line yet if an attacker is also on the goal line with the goalkeeper say on the six yard line then the attacker is in an offside position.
In this video the Green goalkeeper is the 2nd last opponent so Orange was in an onside position. The AR should follow the goalkeeper here and let us say that the GK moved out beyond the scorer then that would have been placed Orange in an offside position.
Have a look at this video.
The Yellow defender is on the goal line and the same would apply if he off the field of play behind the goal. Note the red line moves depending on the position of the 2nd last opponent which could be the goalkeeper.
In respect of your last question the AR should stay with the 2nd last opponent. As Red#2 comes back on the AR just has stay with the 2nd last opponent depending on who that is. If Red#2 gets past the GK or the last defender then he is then the player that offside is judged off.
Have a look at this video of a post match debriefing of a referee crew
AR Mike Mullarkey admits gets rooted to the corner flag which puts him a poor position to see the offside goal. The advice is to stay mobile and move with the players. Had the AR been level with the goalkeeper the 2nd last opponent he would have seen that the White scorer was behind him in an offside position.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Phil,
I think your dedication to trying to imagine every possible scenario is astonishing, however, I think you are needlessly confusing yourself. It is true that if the goal area becomes crowded with shuffling defending players on the posts trying to play clean up in behind the keeper you may well be best positioned along the goal line but only if that is where the 2nd last opponent or the ball is. It really boils down to your situational awareness of what is going in the match. It is much more likely to be through momentum then a deliberate act!

If the AR is with the 2nd last opponent then there is only 1 other opponent closer to that goal line correct? Likely the keeper but if this is live play then if that last opponent steps out over the goal line, for whatever reason, you are still where you need to be. If say the attack presses and the 2nd last opponent does the unthinkable and goes sideways outside the touchlines or steps out in behind the goal he has set up the caution and you must recall his jersey or id who he is!

As AR given you were following the situation you must now be aware he is no longer the 2nd last opponent because you passed the last opponent moving to the goal line or a new defender comes back passing the goof who left so they become the new 2nd last opponent out or recognize the ball itself may now the defining offside line if the attackers are surging forward in control of the ball?

You need to keep that in mind but you cannot stay on the goal line to await their actions if active participants are further away up field nor by the touchline where he exited if a new defender or the ball becomes the defining offside line.

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